As a volunteer, my three children and I arrived on Thursday and set up camp in what was to become the “family camping” area. By Friday afternoon this small wooded glen was filled up with wonderful families, whose children became fast friends, playing endless games of tag and exploring. And what exploring there was! On our first day we found several wonderful places to swim (there were two lakes) and a wonderful babbling brook to wade in. The water was cold, yet refreshing. It was a nice treat after getting all sweaty setting up camp.
We decided after swimming to go even farther on our explorations. We climbed up the hill that faced the main stage as high as we could go and got some beautiful pictures of the main stage with the backdrop of the mountains. It made for some inspiring scenery.
On Friday we eagerly anticipated Barefoot Manner’s set, as they are favorites of ours. They did not disappoint. Their music of the evening set the whole tone for the rest of the festival. Everyone was moving to the groove; even Michael Franti was seen in the crowd, bobbing his head to the beat and taking photos with fans. Later, during his set, Franti gave a shout out to the “Barefoot Men”. After their set was over, I was able to catch the guys and ask them a few questions. After David Kleiss’s departure this past January, fans had wondered if this influencial bluegrass band was falling apart. Well, according to Leo Kishore, “absolutely not.” The Barefoot Manner Men are rather busy now with plenty of live shows and a new studio album in the works. “It should be ready for release around Halloween,” said Hank Smith, banjo, with a smile. “Maybe.” Their tour schedule can be found at www.barefootmanner.com. If the caliber of play on Friday from these four is any sign of what is to be on the upcoming album, Halloween will be a time to look forward to!
Saturday was full of surprises and good fun. Not to mention rain, which this drought stricken area needed, so no complaints were heard from the crowd. The Kid’s Universe was a must see, so we all stopped there to have our faces painted, make magic wands and pork-n-bean guitars to be prepared for the upcoming parade that afternoon.
While in the Kid’s area watching my little ones, I had the opportunity to meet a band I had yet to hear much of, Incognito Mosquito. Out of Charlotte, NC, this band, consisting of Ansley Wynn, Chad Thompson, Ryan Persaud and William Stone, is a self-proclaimed “improvisational funk jam band.” Together since 2003, Incognito Mosquito has proven themselves to be musically connected while performing. “We tend to make it up as we go along, the music,” says Ansley Wynn. “Improving is our thing and it works for us.” They write their own music, not having to use any “outside” writers. “Making music for us is a long process, usually done live,” explains Wynn. The band is touring heavily this year and you can catch their schedule on their myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/incognitomosquito. After hearing these guys play, I don’t think they will be “incognito” for long!
That evening we all lined up for The Avett Brothers set, which was anticipated highly by many a festival goer. The main stage area filled up with fans wanting to see this now infamous trio of banjo-thumping, bass twirling and string breakage boys with their own eyes. The band took the stage and one of the best sets of the festival began. Arriving at the festival just before their scheduled set, the guys were obviously worn. “We just got in from Ohio,” stated Dolph Ramsuer, of Ramsuer Records. “They are pretty tired. We plan on going home after this for a while.” Playing many tunes from their new album “Emotionalism,” Seth, Scott and Bob did not disappoint. Joe Kwan, who helped out on the album with cello, played with them as well. Then Scott and Seth’s sister, Bonnie, came out to help them perform a beautiful rendition of “Swept Away.” Encoring with “Talk on Indolence” The Avett’s, once again, touched their audience with their energy, music and talent. Right now the band is heavily pushing the new album and is just exploding on the music scene. You can check out their website at www.theavettbrothers.com.
Sunday morning, I went and purchased some yum-yum French toast from a vendor and made my way to the side stage to catch a younger group, Beaconwood, from Greensboro. They announced that they had “no set list, but we’ll take requests.” Playing old favorites such as “Cripple Creek” and some new songs they had written, these young men drew quite a crowd for an early Sunday am set. It had been raining, yet the sun broke through the clouds as their set progressed. With a new album coming out and a lot of live performances scheduled, these guys are worth checking out. www.beaconwood.com
After that it was time to tour the grounds one last time and then take down camp. Bittersweet emotions rode over us as we rode out in the Purple Bus, laughing at our guide Jen as she told jokes over the intercom and watching the now familiar landscape of Deerfields and the Asheville Music Jamboree pass by from our open window.
-by Jennifer Harp